An estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. While concussions are a common injury our specialists see at The Center, it is important to remember that a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). After any bump, blow, or jolt to the head, it is crucial to have a medical professional evaluate your head injury right away.
If you or your child are diagnosed with a concussion, here is what you can expect from your recovery.
If your concussion diagnosis is confirmed, the first step is to make sure your health care provider is experienced in concussion management. They will be able to monitor your symptoms closely and create a specialized and personalized recovery plan. Your medical provider will evaluate things like your cognitive function, balance, vision, and neck pain/injuries. They will also asses any potential need for referrals for speech therapy, physical therapy, or neuropsychology. Make sure you feel confident in your recovery plan and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Most people diagnosed with a concussion will feel better within a few weeks, but for some, symptoms can last months or longer. It is important to remember that every brain is different, and to stick to your personal recovery plan to allow your brain to heal quickly and fully. How quickly your symptoms improve depends on many factors, including severity of your injury, history of previous concussions or brain injuries, and how well you take care of yourself after your injury.
Rest and patience are some of the most important steps in recovering from a concussion. You will need to take it easy the first few days after your injury while you are experiencing symptoms to allow your brain time to heal. Get plenty of sleep at night, and try to rest during the day as well. Avoid computers, television, and video games for the first few days of your recovery.
As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel more like your old self. As your symptoms reduce, and in consultation with your medical provider, you will slowly and gradually return to your regular daily activities such as work or school. Only light activity should be introduced until your symptoms are mild and nearly gone. If your symptoms return or get worse, this is a sign you are pushing yourself too hard and you need to take more time to rest and recover.
When you are no longer experiencing symptoms and your medical provider has approved, you can return to all of your normal activities, being sure to avoid activities that may lead to another concussion. You are considered to be recovered from your concussion when you are able to perform all of your regular activities without experiencing any irregular symptoms.
Preventing Future Concussions
Receiving a second concussion before your brain has fully healed is extremely dangerous, so it is important to avoid doing anything that could cause another bump, blow, or jolt to the head while you are healing. After you have recovered, you should try to protect yourself from suffering another concussion in the future. Repeated concussions can cause long-term problems and damage.
Here are a few ways to help prevent future brain injuries:
- Always wear a seatbelt when you drive or ride in a motor vehicle
- Use approved and properly fitted safety equipment for your sport of choice
- Make sure your helmet fits properly and is worn consistently for all sports
- Always use age-appropriate car seats
- Make sure living areas are safe to prevent falls